Walking horse industry responds to critical article
(Editor's Note: Dr. Steve Mullins, president of the SHOW Horse Industry Organization (HIO), released the following response Wednesday following an article that appeared in Tuesday's Chattanooga Times-Free Press. The article concerned the sentencing of Barney Davis for violating the Horse Protection Act and comments Davis made to the judge. Davis was quoted as saying, "Every walking horse that enters into a show is sored. They've got to be sored to walk. There ain't no good way to put it but that's how it is." Below is Dr. Mullins' response to the Times-Free Press article.
I am Dr. Stephen Mullins, President of SHOW Horse Industry Organization (HIO) which is the largest HIO in the Tennessee Walking Horse industry. I am also a licensed member of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) and American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP) and owned my own equine practice until heading up the SHOW HIO 3 years ago.
SHOW HIO is a United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) certified inspection service which inspects over 20,000 Tennessee Walking Horses a year under the direct guidance of the USDA. This includes but is not limited to the Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration (TWHNC). You need to know that Barney Davis was caught by SHOW inspectors showing a Spotted Saddle Horse at one of their shows, not a Walking Horse show. The USDA was not even in attendance at this particular show.
SHOW, in accordance with HPA regulations, turned this case over to the USDA but not until SHOW gave Barney Davis a lifetime suspension for this egregious violation.
Now that you have some relevant history, let me give you some pertinent facts missing from your story:
1. Barney Davis is not a Walking Horse Trainer and not a member of the professional Walking Horse Trainers' Association (WHTA).
2. The horse that SHOW suspended for life in the Barney Davis case is not a Tennessee Walking Horse. The horse in the video attached to your article is also a Spotted Saddle Horse not a TWH.
3. Barney Davis is not a member of the Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders' and Exhibitors Association (TWHBEA).
4. The compliance rate of horses inspected by SHOW HIO over the last three years is over 95%. This means over 9.5 out of each 10 inspected are compliant as verified both by SHOW inspectors and USDA inspectors.
5. At The Celebration in 2011, the World Championship Horse Show, the compliance rate was over 98% working in cooperation with the USDA inspectors. The USDA is present at every Celebration and will have over a dozen inspectors nightly. The USDA will check the horses after SHOW inspectors before and after each class as well as radiograph and thermograph horses in order to insure compliance with the Horse Protection Act (HPA).
Please do not categorize the entire industry with the words of someone who is not a trainer of walking horses or a member of any of the breed's organizations. The walking horse industry and all of its organizations totally support the humane treatment of horses and enforce the Horse Protection Act with or without the USDA present at horse shows.
Mr. Davis has been under a lifetime suspension and is a convicted criminal and not a credible source for your story.
Dr. Steve Mullins
SHOW HIO President